Biologic versus Synthetic Mesh Reinforcement: What are the Pros and Cons?

Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2014 Dec;27(4):140-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1394155.


Preserving patients' native tissues has posed many challenges for surgeons. Increased life expectancy is leading to a proportionately older surgical population with weaker tissues. The growing population of morbidly obese patients in addition to those with multiple comorbidities which influence the native strength and perfusion of tissues compounds the surgeon's challenge. Certainly, there is a rising demand for materials to replace or augment a patient's native tissue when it has been compromised. Over time, the number of products available has increased substantially. The ideal substitute, however, is debatable. The manufacturing and processing of these materials has become more complex and this has resulted in a significant increase in cost. The composition of the mesh, clinical scenario, and operative technique all interact to impact the long-term results. Surgeons require a thorough understanding of these products to guide proper selection and use, to ensure optimal outcomes for patients, and to properly steward financial resources. This review will outline the properties of commonly used materials, highlighting the strength and weakness of each. It will then discuss recommendations regarding mesh selection, coding, and reimbursement. While general principles and trends can be highlighted, further studies of biologic versus synthetic meshes are clearly necessary.

Keywords: biological mesh; coding; synthetic mesh.

Publication types

  • Review